AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition 16 GB HBM2 Graphics Card Previewed – Launches Today For $1000 US
AMD’s Radeon Vega Frontier edition graphics card officially launches today. The new card is aimed at data scientists, immersion engineers and product designers making it a sort of a semi-pro workstation and professional product.
AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Gets Previewed Prior To Launch – Vega Comes First To Pro Market
The AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition was previewed by PCWorld who got to play with the card in a very closed environment, AMD’s test lab. AMD is essentially targeting the Quadro series from their rival, NVIDIA, but compared the card with an NVIDIA Titan Xp that ran on gaming drivers. The price for Radeon Frontier Edition is also confirmed at $1000 US for the air cooled and $1400 US for the liquid cooled variant.
For testing, AMD assembled two setups with identical specifications except the graphics card. The systems ran the Ryzen 7 1800X CPU, 32 GB of DDR4 memory clocked at 2400 MHz, SSD storage, 4K displays and the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition and NVIDIA Titan Xp graphics cards. Before we get to the tests, do read the specifications of AMD’s Radeon Vega Frontier edition graphics card.
AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Specifications, Performance and Features
The Radeon Vega Frontier edition is officially planned for launch on 27th of June. In terms of specifications, the card comes with 4096 stream processors and clocked beyond 1550 MHz to deliver 13 TFLOPs of FP32 and 25 TFLOPs of FP16 compute performance. There’s also 16 GB of HBM2 VRAM which comes in two stacks (8 GB per stack). The graphics card has a total rated bandwidth of 480 GB/s which is lower than the 512 GB/s on Fiji. It also features a pixel fill rate of 90 GPixels/s.
AMD Radeon Vega Frontier edition will be available in June in two variants. One will be an air cooled model which comes in a nice blue industrial texture with a glowing yellow “R” emblem placed in the corner. The graphics card come with a “Radeon” label and logo on the sides and front. The back is covered by a nice blue texture backplate. The whole card is powered by a dual 8-pin connector configuration which confirms a TDP of around 300W. The card is cooled by a single blower style fan that throws air out of the I/O side exhaust vents.
The second card has also been shown and comes in a brushed golden texture on the shroud. It features the same logos but those come with blue LED lighting. The card is exactly the same aside from the fact that it will feature liquid cooling as shown by the tubing extended out of the front. The liquid cooled model ships with a TDP of 375W which is 75W higher than the air cooled variant but will operate at much faster speeds due to the extra cooling. Some features aside from the looks of the card include:
The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Technical Features
• Powered by the Vega architecture
• 25 TFLOPS Peak FP16 Compute Performance
• 13 TFLOPS Peak FP32 Compute Performance
• 16GB High Bandwidth Cache
• 64 Next-Gen Compute Units
• 4096 Stream Processors
Now if we compare the price of the air and liquid cooled models, we are looking at a $600 US price difference which is huge. Both models are rated to feature the same compute power so AMD could be charging extra for the cooling equipment alone. AMD already used a premium design on the R9 Fury X and Radeon Pro Duo series cards with exclusively designed AIO cooling solutions so this can be the reason why we are looking at such high prices on the liquid cooled model.
The air cooled model looks really nice with a blue colored, brushed metallic shroud along with a glowing “R” logo on the corner. The card features dual 8 pin connectors and has the DIP switches on the back which can be accessed to change colors of the GPU Tach LEDs that are located on the power connectors. The card is cooled by a single blower fan and is much larger in terms of length compared to a card like the Radeon RX 480. The card is much thicker than the NVIDIA Titan Xp and packs a single HDMI and three DP outputs.
AMD Radeon Vega Lineup:
|Graphics Card||Radeon R9 Fury X||Radeon RX 480||Radeon RX Vega Frontier Edition||Radeon RX Vega (Gaming)||Radeon Pro Vega 64||Radeon Pro Vega 56|
|GPU||Fiji XT||Polaris 10||Vega 10||Vega 10||Vega 10||Vega 10|
|Process Node||28nm||14nm FinFET||FinFET||FinFET||FinFET||FinFET|
|Compute Units||64||36||64||Up to 64||64||56|
|Stream Processors||4096||2304||4096||Up to 4096||4096||3584|
8.6 (FP16) TFLOPS
5.8 (FP16) TFLOPS
26 (FP16) TFLOPS
|Up to 13+ TFLOPS |
26+ (FP16) TFLOPS
~25 (FP16) TFLOPS
22 (FP16) TFLOPS
|Texture Mapping Units||256||144||256||Up to 256||256||224|
|Render Output Units||64||32||64||Up to 64||64||64|
|Memory||4GB HBM||8GB GDDR5||16GB HBM2||8GB HBM2||16GB HBM2||8GB HBM2|
|Launch||2015||2016||June 2017||July 2017||December 2017||December 2017|
AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Versus NVIDIA Titan Xp Graphics Card In Workstation Benchmarks
For benchmarks, AMD used the same list of tests that they have already shown in slides before. The cards were tested in SPECViewperf Catia and Creo, SPECViewperf SolidWorks and Cinebench OpenGL benchmark. The results were anywhere from 14% to 50% faster than NVIDIA’s graphics card which costs the same at $1200 US.
But, as we talked about earlier, AMD isn’t testing NVIDIA Quadro based parts here which deliver much better performance in workstation environments as they utilize optimized drivers for such tasks compared to the Titan Xp which relies on the GeForce consumer grade drivers which doesn’t get the same benefits. Even the Vega Frontier Edition has the same specialized workstation drivers and AMD themselves have clarified that the card is not designed for gamers which means that gaming drivers wouldn’t work on the Frontier edition card.
AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Vs NVIDIA Titan Xp SPECViewperf Benchmarks:
If we take a look at some benchmarks posted by PCPerspective a while ago, the Quadro P5000 (a GTX 1080 equivalent card) manages to score 152.92 in Catia. Vega scores 137.68 in comparison which is near the P4000, that is a cut down GP104 SKU. In Solidworks test, the Quadro P5000 scores 168.11 versus 111.13 on Vega. The score is even lower than Quadro P2000 which is based on a cut down GP106 die.
As you can see, the Quadro cards have the best optimization on pro workloads so AMD once again picked the best case scenario for them by comparing their best pro card to NVIDIA’s best non-Quadro card.
What about gaming?
AMD didn’t show us all this out of kindness. The company is reasonably concerned about how gamers are sizing up the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition. AMD cautions that consumer-class drivers are a work in progress, and at the risk of repeating itself, the Frontier Edition isn’t a GPU for gamers. AMD does, however, expect Frontier Edition buyers to use the card for gaming within the context of their work. A game developer, for example, would want good performance when testing the game he or she is building. Game performance in VR for professional visualization will also matter, the company says.
While AMD didn’t want to reveal any gaming performance, it agreed to give us a taste of how Radeon Vega Frontier Edition performs in gaming. So we switched out the 8K Dell panel for a pair of Acer 34-inch, wide-aspect 3440×1440 panels, and AMD let us play games on both the Titan Xp and the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition.
To show it wasn’t just an API advantage, AMD let us play Doom using Vulkan, Prey using DirectX 11, and Sniper Elite 4 using DirectX 12. All of the games were set to their highest game settings, and we played at the native resolution of the panels. Although the identical panels were FreeSync-based, FreeSync was switched off on the AMD GPU.
From what we’ve seen, that concern may be misplaced. It appears to be plenty fast and, at least for the settings and the games we played, indistinguishable from the competition. Our original estimates after seeing Radeon Vega Frontier Edition with Sniper Elite 4 at Computex still hold: The cards appears to be faster than Nvidia’s GTX 1080 and close to that of a GTX 1080 Ti card.
Overall, the Radeon Vega Frontier edition sounds great for the workstation and professional users who want something aside of the Quadro solutions that NVIDIA launched a year ago. The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition launches today so we will probably get to see some real-world performance benchmarks rather than those performed under closed environments.